With the start of the New Year comes a lot of inquiries for those of us in the wedding industry and we get a lot of questions during the booking process. One of the biggest questions we get is about the wedding day timeline and if you are a couple in the process of planning your wedding, then you have probably wondered or asked how much time is needed for photographs. For us personally, we really like to get to know prospective clients and get a feel for the structure of their day and how much time may be needed in photography coverage. So in an effort to answer some of those questions, we’ve put together this useful list of Photography Timeline FAQs!! Keep in mind, this is our general timeline structure and is meant to be most useful for our couples and prospective clients but can also be used as a guide for anyone planning their wedding.

Why it’s important

We truly feel that the getting ready portion of the day is important for many reasons. First of all, it helps us tell the story and serves as a great opening to your album design. Also, the getting ready part of the day flies by very quickly (as does the rest of the day) but it can be very emotional, so it’s a great way for us to be able to capture that anticipation and excitement before the big reveal or walking down the aisle!


How much time is needed for Getting Ready Photographs?

We usually tell our clients that we like to have at least 60 minutes of the getting ready process. This is typically the last hour of getting ready and does not include any formal shots you may want beforehand. Since we work in teams of two photographers, we are able to split up and have the main photographer with the girls and our second shooter with the guys, capturing both simultaneously. By the time we arrive, the bride should be finished (or finishing up) with hair and makeup and the guys should be partially dressed (they can wait to put on ties/bow-ties, jacket, shoes, etc). It’s really important to ensure that the getting ready portion runs on time so the rest of the day goes smoothly. Be sure to consult your hair and makeup specialist in order to figure out how much time is needed for each girl. Sometimes we even recommend having some girls go after the bride, so that if anything does happen to run late, then at least we can get started on the photos with the bride before having to head out for the First Look or Ceremony.

Pretty Little Details

During this time, we are also able to shoot all of the necessary detail shots (dress, shoes, jewelry, etc). While we don’t necessarily work off of a shot list, we have a list of things in mind that we know we need to shoot. We also love when our couples tell us about a special or unique detail piece that they want us to shoot. Have an old handkerchief or piece of jewelry passed down through the generations?! Be sure to tell us so we know it’s an important heirloom! In love with beautiful details as much as we are? Check out our post on The Prettiest Little Details of 2014!

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Should we have one and what are the benefits?

Let’s start off by saying we are very open to respecting our client’s preferences and how they envision their big day to unfold. While we are big fans of the first look for many reasons, we also recognize and respect the fact that some couples want to save this special moment for the alter. Obviously the biggest advantage to having a First Look (or First Reveal) is so that our couples can get a majority of the formals photographs done before the ceremony and can go straight into cocktails. If you’re wondering if a First Look is right for you, here are some questions to ask yourself:

1.  Do we have a limited amount of time between the ceremony and the reception?
This could apply to weddings that are happening at one location and guests will be escorted directly into cocktail hour after the ceremony. This may only allow 1-1.5 hours for any necessary photographs to be taken. See below for more details about the time needed for formals.

2.  If there is a limited amount of time in between, are we ok with missing our cocktail hour in order to get all of the essential photographs done?
While we strive to have all couples enjoy their cocktail hour, there may be times when family formals need to extend into this time period. If this is the case and if your concern is not having enough time to mingle with guests, it may be worth considering extending the cocktail hour to 1.5 hours.

3.  Are there many locations we want to go to for photographs?
A good example is if your event takes place in a city and you want to take photographs in many of the iconic spots around the city. Travel time and traffic will need to be factored into the amount of time needed for these photos as well. This is also when a First Look can be handy if there is limited time between the Ceremony and Reception.

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If you have your heart set on seeing each other at the ceremony, then we’re with you all the way! Just keep in mind that we will need the extra time to get all of the photographs you need in between the ceremony and reception. This works well if the ceremony is at a different location or perhaps the cocktails are starting a little later and the guests will be able to go back to their hotel in between.

If you’ve decided that doing a First Look is right for you, this usually takes place right before we start photographing the Couples’ Portrait session, so we’d suggest setting aside a minimum of 45-60 minutes for both the First Look and Couple portraits. Keep in mind that this timeline varies depending on the number of locations that are on your “wish list” and any travel time involved.


How much time do we need for the Bridal Party?

This varies on the amount of people in your bridal party and also the number of locations and distance in between. For the sake of this post, let’s say that we’re doing everything in one location. The Bridal Party photos typically take 15-20 minutes. This may include portraits of just the bridesmaids, just the groomsmen, everyone together formally and then any “casual” shots you may want. If you have a large bridal party and want to include individual photographs of each person with the bride or groom, then we would recommend consulting us on additional time that may be needed to work that into the timeline.


How much time do we need for Family Formals?

Again, this varies on the amount of people in your family and location(s) but we typically recommend at least 30-45 minutes for family formal portraits. If you are having a First Look and wanting to do these portraits before the ceremony, then most likely your extended family won’t be ready early enough to be included in this part of the day. In that case, we recommend shooting large extended family groups during the downtime in your reception. This may be right after dinner, before all of the dancing starts and you could ask your Band or DJ to announce that there will be a large family photo either on the dance floor or out in the lobby/stairwell. This will alleviate a lot of stress on waiting for a lot of people to gather for photos beforehand.

If you are planning to do all of the family formals in between the ceremony and reception, then we just recommend letting everyone know before the big day and you can tell them to wait after the ceremony at the church or go directly to the family formal location (we can suggest a good place to take the photos). Be sure to check with your church or ceremony location to see if there are any time restrictions or rules you need to be aware of.


Should we have a receiving line and how long does it take?

We get this question a lot from our couples and we tell them that this is a personal preference, however we do suggest if there is a limited amount of time in between for photos, it may be wise to forgo the receiving line. This again depends on the structure of your timeline. Nowadays a lot of couples use their cocktail hour as the time spent going around to greet all of their guests and thank them for coming in lieu of a receiving line. If there is plenty of time in between and you feel a receiving line is important to you and your families, then we are all for it! We would recommend allowing 20-30 minutes for this process depending on how many guests attend the wedding.


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How long do you typically stay at the Reception?

Every reception timeline and structure is going to be slightly different so we highly suggest speaking with your venue manager in order to determine when all of the major events are happening. As a general “rule of thumb” we typically stay until right after cake cutting, or 1-1.5 hours before the end of the reception. Again this timeline may vary but we are usually able to capture all of the main events before cake cutting, such as Intros, First Dance, Speeches, Parent Dances and general dance floor shots. So we don’t need to stay until the end unless of course you are planning a grand exit, like sparklers or fireworks! In that case, you may need additional coverage to keep us until the very end. We are more than willing to stay as long as you need though!


Can we have sunset or night shots?

Of course! If there is any sort of downtime during the reception, then typically we use this time to sneak away with the two of you for some quick night or sunset shots (depending on the time of year your wedding takes place). If this is something that’s really important to you, then we recommend discussing it with us before the big day so we can work that into your reception timeline. It may require 15-20 minutes depending on where we go for those night shots.


If you are a current client and have questions about your timeline, please feel free to reach out to your main contact person. Your Femina contact is the person you met or spoke with during the booking process and will most likely be your main photographer (either Noelle or Nicole). If you are unsure you can just email us at [email protected].

For couples interested in booking Femina for your wedding and learning more about our products and services, please contact us here through the website!